As professionals in construction, we often focus too much on hard skills, or the specific knowledge and capabilities we need to complete the job. Too often, we forget about soft skills, like communication, adaptability, and teamwork. Both are needed to be successful in your career, so let’s dive into the power of developing soft skills in construction.
In this episode, we have James Gable, Host of The Uncommon Communicator Podcast. For most of his life, James was an industrial contractor. In fact, most of his family is in construction, so it’s practically in his blood. James is currently a general superintendent for Adolfson & Peterson Construction in Colorado. He’s an optimistic family man who loves to cook and through his podcast, his mission is to help the next generation gain the skills needed to navigate and facilitate any conversation to mutual understanding. He’s truly bringing clarity to the lost art of communication.
Listen in to learn the mindset required to be successful in a skilled trade, why soft skills are crucial for anyone in construction, and how to get the most out of your career while being the best leader you can be.
What You’ll Learn in this Episode:
· The importance of communicating on a shared idea.
· James shares the mission of his career and his podcast.
· His journey in skilled trade: How he went from apprentice to general superintendent.
· What it’s like to be a general superintendent of a construction company.
· The impact of nurturing leadership that supports innovation and experimentation.
· Key leadership qualities of construction workers and skilled tradespeople.
· How to teach your kids the value of skilled trades and tradespeople.
· Why the foreman is the toughest role on any jobsite.
· Major learnings and missteps James has had throughout his career.
· James shares his candid thoughts on one of the biggest burdens of being a leader.
· Why soft skills, like communication, are important for team members in construction.
· James answers: What footprint do you intend to leave on the world?
Listen to The Uncommon Communicator Podcast: https://theuncommoncommunicator.buzzsprout.com
Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss: https://amzn.to/3oEnNbf
Connect with James Gable:
Follow him on Instagram: www.instagram.com/james.gable.984
Yeah. So those are kind of really two, two important things that I want the L and M family to know, as well as that part about being an optimist that is really driven me for the last four or five years. It probably got me to the point where I'm willing to put it out there on a podcast, because you have to do that with some optimism, uh, thinking I'm just putting this out here, you know, and if one person listens to me and that's, that's been. Kind of the drive of my last four or five years of my career is how can I help people? How can I help this next generation? How can I give them stuff? I just want to share, I wanna help people. So that's, that's what it comes down to. And if w if it's one person that I'm fine, Um, I'm good if there's one listener and it's my brother, as long as you can help one person at a time, that's the best thing that you can do in life. Oh, yeah. That's my buddy, Mr. James Gable, full of optimism, and really out there more into make a difference in terms of communication, you know, gotta check out his podcast. Uh, the uncommon communicator they're currently dissecting the book, never split the difference by Chris Voss which is a pretty darn good book. If you haven't checked it out yet, check it out. I just want to give you some insight as to how humble and awesome James is. He reached out to me, kind of out of the blue. We had met way back in the day on a teleconference and he reached out saying, Hey man, I'd like to get some time with you to talk about podcast stuff. And so we had a really great time talking all over again. And I had a last minute situation come up that I really needed some help with. And I reached out to James like a day later and I'm like, April, are you available? Because. I got an opening and I'd love to celebrate you. And, and man, he jumped right on it. So James, thank you, bro. People need to know that that James, his mission is to help the next generation gain the skills needed to navigate and facilitate any conversation to mutual understanding. And he came to this through decades of experience in the industry and grill. Uh, growing his career, does foreman general foreman now as general contractor, And in this conversation, he and I started talking about the toughest role in construction, which he and I both agree that that is the foreman role. I've been a foreman. I still run. I still have scars from living through all that blessed than wonderfulness, but it was an important time for me to grow and develop as an individual. Uh, and you know, it's woven throughout the conversation, but James really is focused on helping people understand. Why soft skills, like communication are important for team members in construction. You know, we like to call them soft skills, but they're really like power skills. The ability to listen with the intent to understand and the ability to communicate our thoughts and ideas in such a way that people can visualize them is a powerful skill. Uh, and, and maybe under-invested in. Also want to give y'all a heads up that we have some to quote Mr. Steve Turner, wicked cool ideas in the oven. Right now, keep an eye out the week of January 12th. We're going to be live streaming with some teachers at a technical school. I hope to see y'all there. Shout out to all of the, our patrons that have been supporting this podcast. Uh, you all have contributed heavily to the increased quality of the visuals and some of the audio stuff. And for the rest of y'all keep listening. We love y'all and here we go. So here we are with Mr. James Gable communication expert, not in the job description. Um, so L and M family want to introduce you to Mr. James. He just launched his podcast. Was it December 1st? December 1st? Yes, sir. The uncommon communicator. That's right. Ah, I got to listen, man. I've said it the other day when we talked, I'm going to say it again. The music selection of the intro is like the coolest, like I knew every single reference and like, okay, I dunno if I'm hip or we're just kind of from the same generation, but this is perfect. That's all my cohost that he is a communications major. He studied this stuff. He's into the media. If you, if I put my music in there, you would, we wouldn't be talking about it, but it's all him and yeah, he did a great job on that. Yes, angel, two of you, I'll tell you this. I listened to both the episodes this morning, um, 20 to 23 minutes long. So it's a manageable amount of time. Um, the, the dynamic between the two of you, there's the, you know, the, the he's referencing Pokemon and you're not talking about Pokemon it's, it's like, that's the realness of it, right? Like the generational difference, but still being able to communicate on a shared idea. Uh, I think, I think that's, that's, what's kind of standing out to me, is the band. Age groups that you can connect with the two of you can connect with and serve. Um, uh, I'm really excited to see what you do with them. And so how you doing Mr. Jameson? Hey, thanks for inviting me to the palatial studios of the learning and missteps. Uh, it's an honor to be here. Uh, glad we found the time to do this. Yeah, man, it's a, it is a crazy path. So you and I met, uh, as a result of a LCI cop for Denver, the Denver cop lean construction Institute. Um, I was, co-facilitating a conversation on gimbal walks with shout out to all day. I don't know if you know this James, but he was the lean manager for Dallas. And now he is the regional lean manager for the central region. Oh, let's see, Jesse is that way, way better than, than what I was. But yeah, he, he, back-filled the spot that I was in and he's going to take him to all new Heights, man. He's a, he's a solid dude. Well, it's fun to see just how different connections happen. Right? That was a $5, one hour gamble walk class that I went to. Might've been two dash five bucks. Like, are you guys making money off of that? I don't think so. Like you probably could have gave me five bucks. I would have went, but it was neat to go to that. And then I had a couple of my young guys, uh, project engineers. I paid their five bucks for them to there's too much work to put it on the company card. Like you guys need to come to this too. And we sat in that thing and that's, you know, that gets that start of our, we're definitely lean amateurs, lean apprentices, you know, we're, first-year apprentices at trying to figure out lean, but that was one thing that, you know, that was just that first connection, you know? Where you meet Jorge, you meet, uh, Hey, you know, me, you Jesse. So was just kinda funny how that stuff rolls around. Yeah. It's an amazing world. And the social media space, the, um, podcasting and, um, live streaming and videos and Peru, like it has a profound effect on people and, and you know, one of the things I appreciate, but appreciate about you, James is your positive message and the way you carry yourself, the way you show up, it's clear to me that you're, um, you care about people about investing in people. Uh, and there's, you know, we've all heard the language influencers, um, and there are a lot of influence. There's so many influencers out there, whether you it's almost like whether you want to or. You are an influencer. Uh, you remember Charles Barkley back in the day where there was all the media commotion that everybody was saying, he's a role model when he needs it. And he's like, I'm not a role model, you know? And I kind of felt like I feel them, but at the same tastic. Yeah. But, but you kind of are right. We've got to own the impact that we have on people. And, and I'm like, I want to say it again. So pleased to hear your podcasts. You're out there sharing, sharing your voice, your thoughts, your message. And you're one of the influencers that I want to be associated with. Um, and, and so I want to give you the uncomfortable opportunity to brag about yourself, James. So what should the L and M family know about you. Yeah. And I know you asked that that's, that is tough. And you know, when you become a general, I, and I, a part of my story and I'll share that, you know, when we want to talk about my career path, but you get into the world of, uh, I went to the dark side of general contracting and I was a industrial contractor subcontractor for most of my life. I'm a millwright by trade. No right. Apprenticeship. My dad's a mill. Right. And my grandpa was a mill Ryan at general motors. My three brothers are all millwrights. So this is, we're a construction family. And you know, some of us aren't all wearing blue colors anymore either, but where my brother's a regional manager of the international brotherhood of carpenters. So for several locals regions, that's a recent promotion for him. And just, this has been in our family. It's in our family. That's who we are, L and M family to know is, is several things and you brought it up optimist. Those are the, one of the things that I think I promote a lot. Now I am an optimist. I'm not, if I'm not just a glass half full, but if that glass is a quarter full, then there's 75% more opportunity in that glass. That's, that's the attitude that I take into problem solving and to just who I am and how I am. So that's kind of a key thing. I'm a family man. I've, I've everything I've done in my career has been for my family and I've done it in my own way, which is how we learned to do it, you know, I've and, and when I say that, I've spent a lot. I've worked a lot over time. My, my last or my first 11 years, I worked 2,600 hours a year. I worked in every bit of overtime that I could work because I was the sole supporter of my family. We found it important that my wife was home with the kids and that that's, you know, we ate a lot of Mac and cheese and I worked a ton of overtime and that's, that's what I felt like I did from a family. I worked out of town a couple of times again, to support the family, but not home. And I say that that's, uh, I am a family man, but I also, I, I think I coach people differently. Now when, when they are thinking about their family, uh, I, I, you can't get that time. You know, and that's things that I know and have learned. I still feel like I did it for the family, but there are things that you can never get back. What's one, you get one day at a time and you don't get that other day back, you know? And you've got one more ahead of you if you're lucky and that's how you really have to look at it. That's how I look at life in regards to that. But I did what I could for my family. I love my family. So absolutely family guy. I love to cook things besides that. I've got a, really a highly popular Instagram. I mean, it's huge. I'm big on Instagram. Okay. Sometimes I cook a lot of things. I'll post pictures, I get seven, eight likes, you know, I just get there's a lot of people out there that like the pictures that I share, uh, one or two, I don't even know. Now I do have a couple of people that like to look at the things that I love cooking, uh, and. Uh, yeah, so those are kind of really two, two important things that I want the element family to know, as well as that part about being an optimist that is really driven me for the last four or five years. It probably got me to the point where I'm willing to put it out there on a podcast, because you have to do that with some optimism, uh, thinking ham, just putting this out here, you know, and if one person listens to me and that's, that's been kind of the drive of my last four or five years of my career is how can I help people? How can I help this next generation? How can I give them stuff? And by giving them stuff, I want them to have it in. I want them to get, I just want to share, I want to help people. So that's, that's what it comes down to. And if w if it's one person that I'm fine, Um, I'm good if there's one listener and it's my brother, because I don't care that that's, as long as you can help one person at a time, that's the best thing that you can do in life. You got it, man. We can change the world one world at a time, man. I applaud your courage. Cause it, you know, you and I are fellow podcasters. It's really scary. You know, you want everybody to love you, but you know what? Realistic let's get it set some realistic goals. And if it impacts one person, it's totally worth it. So here, so you're out James dot Gable dot 9, 8, 4 on Instagram. Yeah. There's 980 people. Apparently I put no thought. I'm like, I'm not going to do Instagram. I'll never do anything in there. Yeah. I looked at it. It says future influencer. You're there already. So that may need an update, but I'm looking at this scrumptious. Oh, yeah, that's a griddle cake right there. What is that? Tell us I got a Blackstone. I can't tell you how many months ago that I got and that blacks, you know, it's a griddle, you know, it's like a four burner griddle and I cooked 12 days in a row on that thing. When I got it, put it together on Saturday, I cooked all three meals on Sunday on that thing. And this thing's a, it's the ultimate cooking machine, but you take a biscuit, you put a little bit of butter down and you put some, uh, rolled it in cinnamon and sugar, and then you just put it on that thing and just, it gets this carmely crispy biscuit full of, you know, diabetes and whatever you want to get. Well, yeah, that's a griddle cake. I do. It's funny. Uh, and you know, you talk, you, you always want feedback, right? And so I've, uh, and it's not always going to be positive. I did these really good looking and you can please follow me on, instead of being be number nine or 10, that likes that, put it there. But that, uh, I did some crispy tacos. I called them. So it's cheese and meat. And then I folded them over, put a little bit of oil on it, got the outside of that tortilla, really crispy make crispy tacos. And then I had several comments that were not tacos. That's a case of deer. Really the critics there, there's only three or four ingredients in any of those ones that you're talking about. So, oh man, uh, taco aficionados out there are, are bad. And you know what? You should put a poll on LinkedIn. It says description taco. Yes or no, people are going crazy for polls on LinkedIn. And, and I'm going to say it qualifies as a taco and I'm from San Antonio where you're the taco. We're the taco Kings. Yes. Austin likes to argue that, but they're just confused. It Santos that'd be a tough pole because if anybody says no to taco, they might unfriend me. You can eat them for breakfast. You can eat it for lunch. You can eat them for dinner. I mean, breakfast tacos. My daughter works at Starbucks and I'll make a burritos for them. Breakfast burritos, bring it into their, to their crew. And then once I got the griddle, I started making breakfast tacos and bringing them in. And that's the ultimate, it's the ultimate vehicle. For food, you very well said the ultimate vehicle. You don't need any utensils, just get the thing and put it in your face. Like deliciousness, easy access under percent. So James, you know, what stands what's kind of standing out to me is you're just very personable, super cool, low key, relaxed. I'm wondering, and you're, you're in the general contractor space, you have significant responsibility there and you know, I've been in the industry since 95 and people with your demeanor are like very, very few and far between. Uh, and so it makes me wonder, like, do you have a switch when you go to work or you got to amp it up? Or how do you, or do you maintain this, this type of easygoing, um, relatable. I, I would, I would say now I'm probably the same, but that's a great question because I, when, when raising my kids, they, I kept work at work. So I'd come home when it came time to come home. And I tell you, you're not a man. If you don't pay paint, your daughter's fingernails, you know, they Barbies with her. She had littlest pet shops. That's that was her thing. And we played when we got home, my son had Legos. We play Legos. When we got home, I didn't talk about work. When I got my daughter didn't know what I did. She knew places. I worked, I worked at jolly rancher. She thought I worked at jolly rancher scenery there. I worked at Coors for a long time. Different places. I've worked. She just associated, Hey, dad made candy. I mean, she had no idea. And that was by purpose. I didn't come home. I didn't want to bore my wife with work stuff. She knows what I do. Probably more than a lot of other wives as far as some interactions and stuff, but I don't sit. I don't complain about work. You know, this is not my place. This is my safe place. So. For really talked about work at home. And I had, when she was in high school, I had a great opportunity to get her to school before I went to chorus. Cause they're really close together so I could drop her off. She would get up early and get to a school an hour early, just so she could run. Dad could give her a ride, neat time. And sometimes as you know, time was pushing, my phone would ring. I'm like, I gotta take this phone call when I'm dropping her off. And she pointed out, that's like that's worker, dad, voice, like suddenly my voice changed. And so to answer your question. Yeah, absolutely. I was, I, I have that a little bit different demeanor, but I mean, who I am is who I am. I think that's always how it is, but I definitely have a different home. Uh, James and there is the work James, uh, for sure that's kinda the way you got to go, but I don't imagine it's like a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde transition. I am, I am who I am, and I think I am different in what you're talking about. As far as being, I'm a general superintendent for eight offs and a Peterson, they're a billion dollar general contractor. We're in several cities. We're the largest region here in Colorado. You know, we're, we're a big company now as a general soup. Um, I'm over our itsy-bitsy baby tiny, you know, small projects, 10 million, and under is what we shoot for, you know, just the tiny stuff, but it's the small projects team. And that's that in, in its own is really helped me be who I am over the last four or five years as well too. I've been with the company because it's, we're, we're an entrepreneur within a big gigantic company. We started a company with the backing of a billion dollar company and we started with, uh, I was, the second superintendent hired were the first one. Uh, couldn't. Um, we couldn't do schedules. Uh, I actually asked them, Hey, can you do a schedule? And just, of course he wrote it out on paper. I'm like, can you use the software stuff and could not. He had, he didn't have that ability, but he was a good superintendent, ended up not working out. So I was really the second superintendent that got hired and funny story with that. Uh, and I'm sure we use projects, Microsoft projects. When I interviewed they're like, Hey, we did a lot of it's scheduled driven, you know, how are you with schedule? So mom, I can, I can put a schedule together. Do you use projects? Oh yeah, absolutely. So I opened up my brand new computer and it's like 2016 Microsoft projects. My bunny had been sharing a disc since 2003 was the verse that I had used before. A lot of buttons got added between 2003 and 2006. So I YouTube, it figured it out and you know, there's this more buttons to push, but poor Fred could not, uh, get the computer stuff down. So he worked out. So we started small hanging a picture on the wall is kind of what we're, we're saying we're going to do. And a lot of people don't expect a GC to take those small projects on our goal was to take, uh, existing clients and support them. Because a lot of times, big projects, they move on and they're like, Hey, we still want AP here. We want you here. And we didn't have a vehicle for doing that. We're like we got to move on and go build another big building. Uh, it was done with that attitude, but it was. Uh, really a niche that we started with, and we also wanted to bring in new clients, which we have. So we really have had some kind of skyrocketing growth over the last four or five years. And that has been that entrepreneur at one point, when we're thinking, what are we going to do next? We talked about trash Kings. Like we had a job site up north to $200 million job site. There's going to be a lot of dumpsters up there. Oh yeah. Why couldn't we as a company, find a way to save money on the job and make money on the job. Right. So there's just a lot of that entrepreneurial type thing. Thoughts, patterns with my boss, he is definitely a dreamer. He likes to think about what's next. Let's not do it the same way. And that's why he's been a driver for lean within our company or within our group, because we're tired of doing it the same way and we have been, and that's just the thing that I've picked up on lean. You know, we've been, uh, lean construction has been around for like 2019. So I'm like, uh, prior to that, it goes back to what, 1950 something with a Toyota Toyota. And, and how did that apply to construction? But for almost 30 years, we've been doing construction. You look how manufacturing changed in the same timeframe. And we're still just now getting there, you know, and some of the other podcasts I listen, I think Philippe had a podcast that shout out to Philippe. He had a podcast, uh, about some innovators on prefabrication. You know, we, I hear about those things. We're, we're, we're working with some trade partners that are doing it, but we're still doing it the same way. I'm still putting, uh, uh, putting sheet rock and, and steel studs up the same way that we did it, you know, 15, 20 years ago. And it's time-consuming and it's wasteful, you know, and how do we do that in a, in a tenant improvement area? We're just, we're in that, uh, I think we got along. And the people that are innovating and doing it are building different things than what I'm building right now, which is T guys, how can we do tic? And so those are the things that he's, he's an innovator in, in making us think, how can we do it different? Because we're tired of at the same way. Oh, and that is that it sounds like you're in a very nurturing environment. Um, and you know, you spent, you described that you spent many years as a mill ride, went through the apprenticeship and worked your way into now the dark side of general contracting. Um, how so now you have a boss that is a leader that supports experimentation. Cause sometimes those experiments don't work out. Right. That's true. But you learn from them some. Yep. So you gotta have a bunch of them. If you're out there doing links though, you have a bunch of stuff that just like. Wow. Wow. Wow. And that's okay, because you learn from that. Right. Um, but through your career, how many bosses, like what's the ratio of bosses that you've had that were like nurturing and breathe life into you versus those that like suck the life out of you? Well, and I, that's a good question. I hadn't, you surprised me with that one. I would say Joe by far has been the most nurturing boss. He is allowed me. I came in as a superintendent, you know, coming from industrial into general construction with really no general construct. Uh, infer no general instruction. Yeah, I didn't, I didn't know how to take it back. I came in with a knowledge of general construction, but not to the level of commercial construction. Got it. So I was a newbie, but I had, he, I felt like I had good people skills and I I'm a quick learner. I can read drawings. You know, those were the things that, uh, and this might offend some people, but when you say. Precision equipment to a thousands of an inch. Uh, I moved some rocket equipment and that was, uh, I worked at ULA or for ULA with ULA. Then we relocated them from Colorado down to Decatur. Alabama is another that I spent out of town. You set precision equipment when you're mechanically minded. And that's why I love about the trades. You're a problem solver. And I thought this is just a different problem to solve. I'll take it on and I'll learn it. Looking back, I, you know, I've been doing this over 30 years and you, if anyone knows 30 years ago that nurturing boss, if you said that word, uh, you know, you were that you were kicked off the job, you know, and there was not so nurturing was, and this is really, and actually, this is a great question because I, how I operate, I try to be different than how I was necessarily raised. But with that, I have, I don't need the pats on the back. So for me, the best, the most, one of the most least nurturing guys that I worked for, I learned a bunch from the scan. This is a guy here in Colorado. He never said out of Boyce, if he said nothing on my job, if he walked on my superintendent and, and looked around, didn't say anything, all right, I gotta go. It looks like you got to cover. That was the attaboy. That was it. So I don't I'm, I'm getting better at giving those out, you know, recognizing people's achievement. Cause people want that. And they need that. I, for me, I didn't need that. And so I had a hard time giving that out. So when you say nurturing, nurturing was when they didn't, you know, berate you or say, tell everything that you did wrong, which is hard to do when you're a superintendent, then you've got a, you got to take and he taught me a lot. You, you go in, you have, you have to take a snapshot of the job. You gotta go to the next one and look at the next job that's going on. You've got a few minutes to make an assessment. So he taught me how to do that. I can go in, but what am I assessing if you fix that, that's going to be better. This is not working over here. You need to do this over here because you're thinking you're helping guide that guy to a better job site by giving him. But that's not supporting him personally in his goal. And so that, that's something I've really wrassled with over the course of my career, because for the most part, not to answer your question, not very many what you would call nurturing. I didn't even know that word. Uh, you know, just not getting yelled at that's nurturing. Right. And we're a different world now. We can't, we're not yellers. Uh, I think there still are some, uh, but there's some that are hard line superintendents that that's, it's their way or the highway, and guess what they're getting jobs done. And they, and I also found that people want some level of assertive leadership to then that's what I've really loved doing. They want clear direction. They don't want the, what do you think? What do you think about that? They don't want that. We want boundaries, you know, people, what do you want me to do, boss? You know, that's what, that's the mindset of, you know, of music, construction workers, what do you want? And I'll go do it. I'll do whatever you want. Yeah. Tell me I'm with you, man. I love it. When somebody says, Hey, let's go have dinner. Like, okay, good.And they say, meet me here at 7:
00 PM. Yes. And it's like, well, you know what? I got a pizza in the fridge that would save me some time. Oh, that's key right there. That has, that happens a lot. You know, where do you want to go? What do you like? And it's like, yeah. That's, that's a, I never thought of that as a key of leadership, I need to pick more places to, I have plenty of places to eat. If you come out here or you won't have to choose. Yeah. Just be let's meet here at this time. Boom. Done. Let's go. Uh, gets the ball rolling and decision making is down at, I mean, it's beautiful. There's two key things that you did stood out to me when you were speaking. One was your experience as a mill, right. And, and the problem solving. Capability that you have developed as a result of doing that work and, and how it's transcended into a major leadership role where you're kind of inventing, creating a new business within the business. And so I wanted to highlight that for, you know, the LNM moms and dads out there that have younger siblings in school, you know, to help them understand it, our industry, craft workers, trades, folks, industrial arts, all of the above creates this capability. That is pretty darn profound. It's not as shiny as some of the other careers out there, which is, you know, we're working on that. Um, but it, it provides immense value. I mean, there's there I've, you know, I've got personal friends that they'll need help and I'll go help them out. And. And they're like, man, how many times have you done that? I was like, oh, this is my first time. And they're like, you just kind of, and it's hard for me to like, articulate, right? Cause he's just like this podcasting thing. Shout out to Ms. Stephanie Brown. She's, she's poured a lot of positivity into me in, in, in the way that I show up on social media. And it's I just tinker around and click on this and look at that. And if I need some extra examples, I'll go to YouTube, um, and, or reach out to my contacts and say, Hey, how do you do this? But it really is that kind of mindset or that ability to let's just play around with it, figure things out and produce something that is, um, digestible or suit somebody else's need provides value to others. Uh, you know, the other thing you talked about was the fact that you're the person that you're with. You're a boss, he's, he's a nurturing innovator. Um, and you leaning into that. It was kind of the undertone where, you know, perfectionism can be paralyzing or, or the fear of failure can be paralyzing and in order to innovate and grow and really leverage the, the brainpower and the spirit that we have in ourselves, we've got to be courageous in like, just, you're going to get dirty, like it's and it's going to be okay, you get rid of yourself up. It's not a big deal. Uh, now on the other side of that is for leaders out there. Cause we got a bunch of leaders and we got a bunch of aspiring leaders out there. Uh, if, if you're not, it may be valuable to go and ask your people if they feel supported. Yeah, that's a good question. And that's, I would say I, I found my groove with where I'm at right now at 50 years old, I found what I wanted to do. I say this a lot, you know, for a lot of years I did what I had to do. I had a family, I did jobs that I didn't like doing. I w I didn't like going into work. Sometimes they're tough. And you do it because you have to do it now. I'm doing, because I want to do it, which is a different mindset for me. Cause I feel like who made me, was doing all of that stuff that I had to do. And now I'm saying that the 23 years old go do what you want to do well, going in and doing what you're going to do might not mean working here. And that's, that's tough for me to say that. And so let me, let me back up a little bit and talk about how I got into the trades. Yeah. Because you would think, you know, I mentioned my whole family's in it. Right. You'd think it was a natural given, Hey, you're going to go be a mill. Right? Well, it wasn't. And I was the fourth. I have three older brothers and I was the smart one. Uh that's what, one of them calls me anyways, but they all got into the millwrights. They got into the trades. I was going to be a music major. I had. Three quarters at a community college, uh, just mired in doing nothing at a community college, wanting to be a music major. And my dad came to me and he said, Hey son, why don't you just take the quarter off, take the summer off from some money, then go ahead and go back to school, you know, get in work a little bit or some money. And it was like 34 years ago. So I had never felt back to college from them. But you know, in 88 I was making 10 bucks an hour. That was great. That's big money, big money living at home with mom and dad making 10 bucks an hour. I mean, that was great. And then from there as an assembler, I wanted the apprenticeship and then the apprenticeship, you know, it was always that, Hey, finish the apprenticeship, then go back to college. And then after that it was man, I'm making now. To support, you know, I can't go to college support a family. And so I never had that degree. Um, I never had the degree and, but my degree was that apprenticeship and that apprenticeship is as good as, as I think any better, any degree that you can get, you get out of it, what you put into it. Then I got a lot out of that apprenticeship, uh, time. And so I've been able to use that. And I transfer that when I came out here to Colorado, that's the best part about being in the trades too? You come out here. I had signed up with the union. I knew people like I didn't, but I did, you know, I had a skill set that was marketable because they had taught me how to do. And I came out here and I worked for, uh, one company for 18 years here in Colorado until they had went through some, uh, issues. And they ended up getting sold to them to a different company. And, but 18 years prior to that, though, I worked. 12 years. My first company, my first year in the trade, I worked 11 companies my next year in the trade. And then a little bit less the next couple of years as an apprentice. And then as a journeyman, I was working between two or three different companies. I've worked for a lot of companies and that's the experience. I think that made me who I was because I was so diverse. Now the issue I have is, and then I worked for 18 years for the one I would have retired there. If that was the case, I would have just retired there. Things didn't work out that way. Now I'm with a different company and it couldn't be better for me personally, because it's just, I've hit that groove of stuff that I love to do. But it's tough for me now to coach people, to, uh, to get the same experience that I got. Now, it was a hard road for me to be where I'm at. There's kids right now with their, with the. Construction management degree that are going to be superintendents in five, six years, seven years maybe depends. You know, it took me 30 years to get there or 20 years to get there because it's that experience and that, so there is value in general contracting with that degree to be a superintendent, but how many times? And I wonder how many times you think about, did you want to just go back to work, uh, and then leave it at work? You know, even being a foreman level, you just wish that you can. I mean, when we're, when we were in Jacksonville for that project, that was probably the, one of the toughest jobs I've ever worked. We, me and my boss were both like, man, I just want to work at Starbucks. I just want to coffee and go home at the end of the day. But you know, there's, there's. Yeah, you just wish you could go back to doing that, but you don't, you know, I knew that as Prentice, you know, as part of my career development, too, as an apprentice, I knew I wanted to be the lead apprentice. You know, if we were, had to go talk to the boss, I wanted to make sure that I was getting the work lined up for me and my partner, which I worked for a lot of companies that were apprentices with apprentices because we're cheap. So if you could just do your job and follow directions, and then you could do that and then. From there. I became a foreman and being a foreman. So back to be an apprentice, when I was an apprentice, I wanted to be the best apprentice that I could be. I never had any aspirations more than that. I knew I wanted to eventually be a foreman. You know, those are just the levels at 23 years old, I'll be a foreman, the rest of my life. And then you see general foreman hit that general foreman. When I came out here to Colorado, uh, still not really thinking about superintendent. I had a superintendent who, uh, he was on the five-year plan. He's on it for 15 years now, five years, he was going to retire and hand over the keys. This is the last year. So he was kind of coaching me, training me. He ended up moving on and then I ended up taking over the superintendent job from him. He went somewhere else and gave that same speech to someone else and then went to another company. And now he's still, I think he's down to two or three years now, 15 years later, but I never thought, okay, well, when I hit superintendent, my first year of being evaluated by my project manager, was he goes, what's your. Um, to be a superintendent for, you know, five more years. I mean, that's, I had never even thought about that next level. I just wanted to be the best that I could be at that level. And then realize that really in construction. I ended up being a project manager, which in my company that was the promotion up early. You heard this and now with, you know, in general construction, Brits, it's just a true partnership. You know, the superintendent for my company is the man. And that's what drew me to be in, in general construction. In fact, I had met with a superintendent, uh, at another one of my coworkers had went to work for this company and he brought me over. So I'm like, how is it? What's it like, he's like, let me figure it out first. You know, I don't know. I'm like, it looks like you're having a great time. So when I, he said, come meet Brian and I met Brian on a project and he's a superintendent and I'm trying to decide, I don't want to be a PM or be a superintendent. And that's when I decided, you know, I really do want to be a superintendent because that superintendent runs the whole job and the PM, you know, they work on the financial side. So I made that decision, you know, four or five years ago, this has been my path and never thought much more than that. He'll be a superintendent on a general contractor. I didn't know at the time. The small projects group, you know, we had started, so I'm like, I'll go build buildings. That sounds great. You know, and from there we grew, we grew so fast that I just won was supporting the teams. You know, we had got a bunch of work over the summer, a bunch of summer schools as super subs. That's been our first market as a gigantic general contractor. We were working for our trade partners, doing their. Concrete work, doing their grid, ceilings, floor protection, stuff like that, supporting them. And so that in that supporting role, as a small projects group, we had, we just had a bunch of work. So I'm helping manage those jobs. I'm on, this is, I love doing this at several. We started hiring superintendents and as that started to grow, it helped me grow into my position as general superintendent over all of our other superintendents. So it's just all kind of happened naturally. Uh, wasn't something, I didn't think when I was 23, I'm going to be a general superintendent of a gigantic company. I didn't think that way. And I think that's important to think about in your career. We, I think a lot of people think so far ahead that they don't focus on being great at what they're doing right now. You know, be the best that you can be right now. And from that good things are good. 100% and focus on serving people and building your knowledge. It's like perpetual energy just keeps building and building and it, the next step, the next level, the next experience, the next adventure reveals itself as you're going down that path, you know, when you mentioned foreman and we got to show love to form it, uh it's you and I have a similar path where I was like, ah, I just want to beat all my, every apprentice. I just want to smoke them. Right. And then when I got the journeymen, I just want to smoke all the journeymen. Um, and then when I got to foreman, I mean to date, I've had very different roles and very significant transition. To date. I still believe that foreman role is the toughest position on any job site. It, I mean, part of what happens is for me and I get, I see it a lot in informing when to get into the role is I spent the past five, maybe 10 years being recognized and rewarded for the amount of work that I would put out the visible work that I would put in place. And now I'm in this new stupid role that I have to fill out paperwork and I got to go to meetings and, and now I got to use an iPad or a laptop, you know, the way things are evolving. And I can't see my work anymore because my work is no longer, this tangible, visible thing. That was very, that was a big challenge. So there's this shift in thinking that I had to make. Plus the additional responsibility of doing all the company stuff. And then, you know what, now I'm also responsible for developing people and guiding people. And like you said, providing clear direction and nobody says, oh, you're a first-year foreman. So we're going to take it easy on. The expectations of a foreman is that you're 25 years seasoned freaking foreman. That's an expert at everything you need to know everything, right? That's the assumption. And so the pressures all the way around, right? The project manager, internal project manager, internal superintendent, the team that you're leading the general contractor on site, the schedule, the budget, and you're learning, it's a son of a gun. And so, and we want you to do that for a buck more an hour. Yes. Compensation is, is there are some organizations that I've worked with and that I know that do a fabulous job of appropriately, uh, appreciating their foreman. But by and large, they are an underappreciated role. So love to all you foreman out there and everybody. Yeah. Do better do better by your foreman. So, man, you've got much experience, tons of experience. And I imagine through all those years of learning and coming up through the, as a millwright and coming into leadership, starting a new, uh, entrepreneurial, uh, business, starting a podcast, I imagine there's a bunch of learnings and missteps you've had along the way. So I'm wondering what is one, you know, what's a significant learning you've had as a result of like a painful, maybe even embarrassing. Yeah. And you know, I know you asked this question and this, this it's tough for everybody to pick one, right? And we'll say this, and I have spent a good part of my career learning from other people. And I need to, everybody needs to know that you don't have to make the mistakes. And that's what I love about this aspect of your show is let's talk about them. So I can know that man, he goofed up big time. I'm not going to do that. And I spent a lot of my career watching foreman screw up to be a better foreman, but not saying that I haven't, and there's a couple that really stick out for me. And I, and one is on a, on a interpersonal level. Uh, I had an apprentice who Yeah, it's me again, interrupting the flow of the show and I'm doing this just to motive, set the hook a little bit and motivate you to sign up and become a patron of, of our podcast. So you can become a contributor in keeping us commercial three. Y'all giving us your time and listening to this episode is extremely meaningful. Uh, if you don't have the resources completely understand, you're giving us the most precious resource of all, which is your time and attention. But if you want to give a little bit more. He hit us up patrion.com/learnings and missteps. And I'm a stop talking. I wasn't purposeful, like I am now in mentoring and coaching people. So sometimes that just happens, but that kind of went full. So that was kind of a misstep that went full circle. Yeah, glad that it did because, and it also, there's a lot of lessons in that too. Right. Don't hold on to that stuff. Really. I should've found them earlier and done this, but it did guide how I operate, uh, my life because of that huge, you know, gut wrenching misstep in my mind that okay. On a person because you can make mistakes at work. And I'm going to tell you about one of those, but you can make construction mistakes and those can be fixed. And then people talk about it, right? But these types of things are deeper and lasts longer and mean more than just putting in, you know, putting a wall in the wrong spot. So my other one, I got to tell you about this one, because I carried this name for a long time. Uh, we were a part of this, uh, this project that we moved down to, uh, moved ULA down to Decatur, Alabama. We were set in this one piece of equipment. There's a long story behind where it ended up, but I even had it approved by their quality department. They get a little tiny stamp, they put it out and I mean, we followed the whole quality thing and this thing was set per the parameters that we relocated to down there, they go to hook and this was a rocket factory. They go and hook the rock. And it's, you know, this is a 75 foot long, you know, rocket section. Well, if you're off by that much at the beginning seventy-five feet out later, it was way off. Yes. And it ended up being, I had one of the bearings was switched on it. Uh, the, anyways it had some brackets in there that made it to us about an inch and seven eights off. So my nickname became missed it by that much. Oh, that shake that one. I, I was get smart for a long time. Missed it that much. And we were, we were called precision industrial, and then it was almost precision, but I'll say this go, do you think I double-check those things now? Yeah. Yeah, man. Catch it. Right. It's how, you know, for me. My two best teachers is pain and failure. Like when, when I experienced pain from the decisions that I've made, they that's sticks with me when I fail that sticks with me. And I, I bet there's some that I've, I've tested out and done the same stupid thing four or five times, but there's others that really like, okay, not going to do it again. Um, and you were talking about, uh, the gentleman that you wrote the letter on. That's another thing, you know, back to when we were apprentices and I wanted to be a foreman. I wanted to be a superintendent. I want to be general superintendent. I always thought that it got easier as I now, one thing for sure, it got easier on my. But not easier on my psyche because you get to a point where you've got to make decisions that impact the livelihood of others, human beings. And that is a burden. I mean, you know, I've done my share of, of, uh, corrective actions, terminating people, laying people off. And even the ones that I was like, please just quit. Cause I'm sick of you. When I had to let them go, it was not easy. It was, it was hard. I didn't feel good. I did it. It it's. The point is there are burdens with leadership and, and the decisions that we make impact people's lives. Yeah, th there their bottom line, can they put food on the table? Those are tough decisions. And that's, I think that's a good point on my evolution as well, too, because being in the union, we worked a lot of outages. So guys were, you know, I was a commodity working for my 11 is that first year you get hired. See on the next one, became my word. Hey, we'll see it. Cause there's always one more other job. So I didn't have that, uh, connection necessarily because we knew the job ended and we went somewhere else for another company. And then you traveled around doing that, but things change when you get more in a relationship based company, which I am in now. And I looked back, we've had to let some people go in it's it is tough, but, uh, I look back and some of these guys are shocked. Like I I've probably laid off over 300. Mm. They're like what? But it was back with the handshake. See, on the next one, but, but I've gone through that PR and I said, you know what? I've been laid off 30, 40 times myself. I mean, it's just part of that process, but you're right. You do get that connection when you realize, Hey, I've got to let this guy go. I've never, I still stand with the idea that I have never fired. Anyone fired themselves, that you know what, that is a healthy way to look at it, uh, provided the, for me, provided that I did everything I could to help that person meet or close the gap and meet the expectation. It took me a long time to learn that when I finally figured that out, it was like, okay, here we are. It's decision time. These were the things we did. These are the resources we connected to. This was the com the Frank clear communication. And it, you have indicated that you don't have any interest in keeping the. So I'm going to let you go. And you know, there's been several people that after the fact, we're like, bro, thank you for doing that. I needed that wake up call or, or one, one gentleman, actually, he was in Texas. He went to Dallas. I didn't terminate him, but we had a straight up conversation and he was just very clear. He's like, you know what? Like, I don't want to the what the organization, the direction the organization is headed, dude. I'm not okay with it. So I need to make a decision. And, but it was a result of having direct, clear conversation. These are the, these are the rules of the game. These are the expectations. And that gave him, you know, drove him to a decision and say, you know what? I don't want to play this game and guess what? That's okay, because you don't have to play the game where you're at. You can go find another game to play and be happier. And that's what he found. So it's not easy, but, but we have. Our company motto is we build people. We built trust communities and people. Uh, we, as a small project group have used that. We built people before the company took it on and edited it there three fancy sayings, but we build people has always been our thought. And at one point I had those, the first guy let go now in a different environment where I'm hiring people and building their careers versus a commodity through the union. Right. And by doing that, it was, and I had to stick with this is for me to build him properly. He needed to go to the next contract. That's he couldn't, he couldn't show up to work. He was late and he was M there's this, all these issues that we tried to address. And, and, um, I'm the, you're not going to interview my boss or, you know, um, geez, he's the, you know, I am the Mister too many chances. I want to make sure, like, it's, like I told that guy, well, how did you tell him, you know, how did you have this conversation? How did you develop them? You know, let me have that conversation. And especially with, you know, our foot down, uh, you know, a couple layers and layers down or, you know, direct field guys, like how did you do it? What did you, I want to make sure that we did everything now that we possibly could do. And then he's just, and it's never, it's never crystal clear. Like there's no more of that. Just flat out, you know, you amount of here, it's just that slow burn of, you're not getting the job done and I can't pinpoint it. A lot of it is. Is soft skills are so much more important than I ever thought they would have been 20. They didn't teach me that. Didn't give me that in my tool box. And that's one of the reasons I'm passionate about communication is they didn't. Nobody gave me these tools. Just go figure it out, right. Go to work. So those soft skills are the ones that I find a lot of my guys are struggling with communication talking, you know, you brought up the foreman thing. Uh that's who do we typically make our foreman? The guy who communicates a little better than the other guy, or at least as we'll look you in the eyes. Right. All right. You're the foreman. I did that one time. I was brand new to the company out here in Colorado, 20 years ago. And I had two guys that they, they gave me an outage. I was in an outage at a glass plant and I had to set teams up. I mean, that's what you do, right? As a, as, as a general superintendent or for general foreman. Uh, so I'm just pairing up guys based on, you know, looks, you know, my first impression, my one second impression, then I paired up these two guys and I did all my talking with this one guy. Well, it turns out that other guy was a general, uh, super or general foreman for the company on these other jobs. But I didn't recognize that in him. I just went to the guy that was more communicative and he ended up not working with the company that much longer, but I I'm looking, who's talking, you know, so who can I have a conversation with to know, all right, we're going to plan some workout. So how important are those skills at the foreman level? Uh, and I think that's why I want to promote communication through all levels. It's only going to help your career. It's going to help you stand out. It's going to help you get to that next level because the ones that don't are the ones that are just going to stay behind and be happy, turning wrenches the rest of their life, or, or. And that's okay. Like we need that, right. I mean, you know, I have a Fernando who I interviewed way, way, he was kind of division of the, the, the, that this podcast was founded on because he, he straight Tony's like, Jessie, you always want to make me a lead man in a format. And I don't want that. And of course in my, I had my blinders on like, well, don't, you want more for yourself? And don't you want this? And, and he was like, when I finally like, shut my mouth and listened, right? The other might be most important. Part of communication is receiving messages. Um, I discovered that he was heavily engaged with the nonprofit organization that was doing toy drives and fan drives and food drives like all kinds of stuff for a low-income part of my community. I had no idea he was doing that. And so, of course he didn't want to deal with the baggage of. He had this other really meaningful thing going on in his life. And so I had to back off and say, okay, Fernie, like, I'm going to leave you alone because guess what? He is adding value to our community. And I think, you know, for leaders that super ambitious people that, you know, like want to do and discover and grow and all that stuff, that's important. Don't discard the people that don't want that because you don't know the impact that they're having in their community. And they probably have their priorities, hell Oscar boost a month. It will be one super awesome guy. And he's another one that I like. I was always pressuring and pressuring and pressuring them to take a leadership role. He coached his kids' baseball team. He coached the soccer team. I mean, like he did, he amazing husband. He has a classic Chevy pickup, like using the car show, like he had this whole other grand beautiful life. That leadership role would steal. And so not everybody places the same degree of value on leadership. And we got to honor that we got to respect that. Um, and this is a beautiful conversation, James. So we'll, it's, let's do the wrap-up question. want to know, man, what footprint do you want to leave? Do you intend to leave on the world? Yeah. And that's the huge, you know, am I gonna. You know, fund a nonprofit that feeds 8 million, 800 million people. Probably not, but I have, that's fine like that. When you asked that, I feel like I should have that, but it goes down to one person at a time for me. And I really found, again, my groove in helping, uh, you know, the story Storytime is what my project engineers call it on story time, share the knowledge and the information that I have one person at a time, you know, am I going to stand in front of a, of a 10,000, you know, auditorium and preach my message of communication. I maybe, but I'm not going say no, but that's my goal is still in that room. One person at a time, I want to help them help their career, help them develop themselves. And as I've really have discovered, do what you want to do, which is hard for me to say, because what I want you to do is work for me the best that you possibly can, but do what you want to do, because that's what I'm doing right now. So that's really the footprint I want to leave. It's probably a small footprint, but it'd be one person at a time. Oh my God. So did not disappoint. Here's the. Is w w this is my observation. When I hear people talk about, you know, they want to whatever, have a Lamborghini and these, these types of things, um, I think that's good. Like that's not bad at least unless they're stealing it. Right. Um, but what you just said is like so profound, it's not, it's one person at a time it's sharing the experience that you have as a human being on this planet with others to help them discover fulfillment and contentment in their life. And here's the, like, the super, super deep part here is the most important person is the person in front of us. And that person has a lifetime of experience and pain and not. Did is tremendously valuable to everybody else. And so to share that is the key, all the other grand things I believe happened as a result of that. Of sharing that you already know, as you start teaching and sharing, you start discovering more about yourself and it continues to build. Um, so I am looking forward to sitting in that 10,000 room audience and hearing the inspirational talk you're going to have about communication, James. And this is, this did not disappoint knew it was going to be awesome. Did you have fun? I had a great time, Jesse. I appreciate you last minute. It couldn't have been better if I had any more time to think about it, it probably would have been even worse. I had, I've had a great time. This has been a great conversation. Uh, you know, um, you're a learner, I'm a learner. And I think those are the people that I want to partner with. And those are the people I want to talk to because if you're there is part of the part of our podcast is we're going through a book right now and never split the difference by Chris Voss. And he's got some very quotable things in there and he, he's a very good negotiator, but negotiating is listening. I heard you say that too. Uh, communication is listening and this book is really a book about listening, how listening skills, asking questions, stuff like that. But one of the things he says a lot is if you're not getting better, you're getting worse. And I, I like to use that as much as I can, because if you, and that's how true is that right? Your skills of media, this is how he's and he doesn't, you know, he's an FBI, uh, former FBI negotiator. So it's like this, right? He's uh, he's Brooklyn, uh, FBI agent guy, but it's, if you're not getting better, you're getting worse. So the minute you're not getting better, your skills are depleting. So you should be working on yourself, getting better every day. And this is what, uh, these conversations helped me get better every day or boom, let's wrap with that there. Yo dropping the mic. That conversation with James was like really motivating and inspiring for me. He dropped some real wisdom and I love when people talk about. The footprint, they intend to leave on the world. Uh, they usually kind of say, oh, you know, it's really not that big a deal. And then after they get to talking, it's like, man, this is the biggest deal in the world. So hit up, James, y'all need to check out his podcast, the uncommon communicator support him. There's some good stuff out there for you and your people to, to put into practice. And now it's time for the shout out. So we got a comment from demographics. That's the title in the review that that was left. So demographics, all respect my friend. And here we go. Demographics says, I just want to get to the bottom line is that lean tool process is great. And sometimes we just get trade partners, superintendents, and personnel that don't have either a great education. Or no education or never been exposed to high level mid-level or any level of pure communication, but saying that we just have dumb people out there at all. I'm saying is we have to understand the audience we're speaking to. I believe you are blessed with the gift to comprehend and communicate. And I think the biggest challenge is to communicate to others that. Demographics appreciate you taking the time to leave with that comment. And I want to share this, um, I'm going to assume that it's coming from a good place and it's your personal observation of the world. So thank you for having the courage and sharing that. One thing that I had imprinted into my mind is if the learner hasn't learned the teacher, hasn't. So, what that means is the onus on communication and getting the message across and transferring the knowledge lies upon me as the teacher. Uh, it's very easy for me to point the finger and say, other people don't have the skillset. Other people are lacking, et cetera. But the skill that you referenced on my ability to communicate came from me, really looking back at all the times that I've failed to communicate that I've failed to connect and making micro adjustments to improve that. And I did that by asking them specifically, What is it that I'm doing that is not connecting with you? And also, how can I better serve you? Those two questions have helped me tremendously. And I want to share those with you demographics so that you can, um, have a more fun time when you're communicating through all the pains and struggles that we have out there on the job site. Again, thank you for leaving the comment to rest of the L and M family out there. Love y'all and we'll talk again soon. Man you are one dedicated listener, sticking with us all the way through to the very, very, and please know that this podcast dies without you. And we invite you to share how the episodes impacting you along with your thoughts, questions, and suggestions. You have been gracious with your time. So we added social media links in the show notes to make it super easy for you to connect with. Be kind to yourself. Stay cool. And we'll talk at you next time.
Here are some great episodes to start with.